INTERVIEW WITH ERIN TAYLOR & GREG ADKINS
Photos by Kelsey Walters
Q: What exactly does Ormond Bee Company do?
A: This really falls into three categories: rescue, rehabilitation and relocation. Initially, we’ll rescue the unwanted hive. Afterward, we’ll maintain that hive to ensure the colony is gentle enough to handle yet strong enough to survive on its own. Once we reach that milestone, we then relocate them with someone who is interested in adopting a hive.
Q: Erin, what inspired you to start this incredibly unique company?
A: I’ve always had a fascination with insects ever since childhood. As an adult, that was only heightened with bees and the enchantment of all that feminine energy of a hive. Then, nearly 10 years ago, my mom and I enrolled in Bee College through the University of Florida as an opportunity to spend more time together and to carry on the tradition of my maternal grandmother, Mama Kane, who was also a beekeeper in the ‘60s. So, basically, I was inspired by the strong, southern women in my family and the wonder and mystery of nature.
Q: How has that initial inspiration evolved?
A: In the early days, it was just a matter of working hives and selling fresh honey on the side, doing occasional presentations at elementary schools and talking about the plight of bees to anyone who would listen. Over the last couple years, though, it’s grown into a proper business. Nowadays, we have the opportunity to “be the change.” As hokey as that might sound, it’s nonetheless true. We get to rescue hives, educate people and bring up new beekeepers, who will in turn spread the word. It’s a dream that continues to evolve.
Q: If someone has a hive on their property and wants it to be removed, is there a cost associated with that? Also, can you remove any hive from anywhere or does it have to fit certain criteria for you to move it?
A: There are often costs associated, yes, but those can vary widely with each different scenario. And yes, unfortunately, there are certain situations that are out of our depth. For example, we’ve had homeowners call, frantic about a colony behind a wall in their home, but when we tell them we’ll need to cut into the wall to remove the hive, they often balk, which we totally get. But in those instances, there’s not much we can do.
Q: Once you remove a hive from a residence or unwanted location what is the next step in getting the bees to a new and safe environment?
A: We’ll transport the removed bees in a small box hive to our home – thankfully, we’re both pretty safe drivers! Once home, the bees remain for several weeks in “bee-hab” (pictured above) until the hive is well enough to graduate to a regular-sized bee box.
Q: Where is the craziest place you have removed a hive from?
A: We got a call from a guy hoping to restore a 1971 Volkswagen Bug. Unfortunately, about 50,000 bees were calling it home. Fortunately for us, though, the colony had established inside the trunk, which made for a relatively easy removal.
Q: On the other hand, what if someone wants to add a hive to their property? What approval process and training do they go through and what type of cost and maintenance is associated with it?
A: We actually have an “Adopt-A-Hive” program for individuals or businesses interested in providing homes for these rescued bees. We offer beekeeping lessons and equipment, starting around $400, for people who want a hive box for, say, their backyard. We also offer monthly maintenance plans for anyone who’d like a hive box but who doesn’t necessarily have time to maintain one.
Q: On average, how many bees make up a hive?
A: It varies depending on time of year. In summer, you can expect between 20,000 to 60,000 in a healthy hive, but that number can drop by more than half in colder months when the queen stops laying eggs.
Q: Your bee hives are like a work of art. Do you hand paint every hive you set up?
A: Thank you! Yes, the hives currently in our backyard are each hand-painted. We have an art shed out back as well, where it all goes down and where we encourage people to paint their own hives as part of the Adopt-A-Hive program.
Q: The bee crisis is a serious situation, and yet somehow I still meet people who have no idea what is going on. If you run into someone who isn’t familiar with the issue, what are some of your go-to talking points on what is happening and how they can help?
A: Yes, we are absolutely experiencing a crisis. Bees are vital to the world’s food supply, to the pollination of so many of our crops, and yet they’re dying off in alarming numbers. And though the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder continues to be debated, one thing we can all agree on is that it’s imperative to help save and repopulate as many bees as possible right now.
Q: If our society continues to ignore the bee problem, what type of environmental impacts are we looking at?
A: Is anyone really prepared to pay $20 for an apple? ‘Cause that’s where we’re headed without bees pollinating our crops. Without them, people would need to complete the pollination process by hand. I mean, really?
Q: During our interview we watched you open hives without a bee suit or anything on to protect you from being stung. You are either a bee whisperer or know something we don’t. Do tell…
A: Well, there’s definitely a connection there. Bees, like many animals, have an intuitive sense, and they pick up on our vibrations. If a person approaches with fear or malice, they sense it and act accordingly, which can manifest in a few painful stings. The key is to be calm and respectful. It feels like an approach we can all get down with.
Q: Not only do you rescue and rehabilitate hives, you also produce your own line of honey! How often can you produce batches of honey from each hive and how much does each hive produce?
A: That’s a tricky question. Harvesting varies depending on the variety of honey. For instance, wildflower honey is harvested year-round since so much of our local flora blooms throughout the year. Whereas other varieties, such as orange blossom, only bloom once a year. Insofar as average yield, you can expect between 30 to 60 pounds per year from a mature hive.
Q: Where can your line of honey be purchased?
A: Thank you for asking! We have wonderful retailers in Ormond and Daytona: Molto Bella Boutique, Ormond Olive Oil Company, Chef Rx, Health Nut Cafe, Gathered Lifestyle Market, Wine Not?, Elite Therapeutics and Antos & Booth Chiropractic. We also work with business accounts for gifts and such. And if you order from our website, OrmondBeeCompany.com, we even deliver locally for free!
Q: If you can’t put a hive on your property, but you still want to help make a difference, what do you suggest residents do, or not do, to help the situation?
A: Foremost, use pollinator-friendly plants in your garden: butterfly bush, cosmos, coneflowers, mint, pentas, black-eyed Susans. The list goes on. There’s just so many wonderful plants out there that bees love. Also, make sure you’re not buying plants with systemic pesticides in them or using chemicals on your lawn or garden. And, of course, always buy local, raw honey. Lastly, just realize that honeybees aren’t out to get you. They are just trying to peacefully work their magic. So when you see them, send them love for working really hard to keep our planet thriving.